Amid a political slugfest over the BJP's alleged attempts to topple the Congress-led Rajasthan government, deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot met senior party leader and close Sonia Gandhi aide Ahmed Patel.
According to sources, Pilot told Patel at a meeting late on Saturday night that chief minister Ashok Gehlot was trying to sideline him and was given assurances that “injustice will not be allowed to happen to him”.
The meeting comes amid fast-paced political developments in Jaipur that have sent alarm bells ringing in Congress high command as a deepening rift between Gehlot and Pilot threatens of a fate similar to what happened in Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia walked out the government with his MLAs, leading to the downfall of the Congress.
Sources said that Pilot claims 23 MLAs in his camp and wants to flaunt his strength because of the clash with Gehlot. Around 10 of the pro-Pilot MLAs reached Delhi on Saturday, but have not gathered at one place so far.
They said that Pilot believes that the inquiry ordered by Gehlot against three Independent MLAs for alleged attempts to bribe Congress MLAs ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls last month was also a way to target his camp.
Seniors in the party feel that this “ego clash” can be avoided and have asked Piliot to “show patience and not ruin his future”, assuring that things would be sorted out.
At the heart of the tussle between the two is a deep distrust that has manifested itself multiple times in the last couple of years.
On Saturday, chief minister Ashok Gehlot also convened a meeting of the council of ministers at his residence to discuss the political situation in the state. Urban Development and Housing Minister Shanti Dhariwal, Health Minister Raghu Sharma, Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas and Labour Minister Tikaram Jully, among others, visited Gehlot. Apart from Congress MLAs, Independent MLAs also met the chief minister.
Gehlot has accused the opposition BJP of trying to topple his government by offering his legislators large sums of money. He alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were unable to "tolerate" him or his government and were therefore planning a conspiracy.
Rejecting Gehlot's allegations, BJP state president Satish Poonia said the political situation in the state was the result of infighting in the Congress and the chief minister was just trying to shift the blame.